Monday, March 21, 2011

Hell Fast in Paradise

On last Sunday, it was time to test the sacred secret spot with 15 m/s average horizontal ENE. In this sacred and magic place, one has to add a great vertical wind vector. On Sunday, it must have been about 8 m/s... To those wind conditions, add an almost full half-circle, 1400 m broad, made of 200 m high vertical majestic cliffs, topping a perfect oriented bottom valley where NE fresh air engulfs and get accelerated. When you have all that in front of you, then you can prepare to get one of the greatest slope soaring experience in your entire life!
Exactly this happened to me this last Sunday. And I must say: this was just awesome and awesome and awesome. I had only two flights, but what flights!!! It was something I will for sure never be able to forget, even trying hard.
Since landing is more than tricky due to the enormous top rotor, I did not fly my Cyril F3F but prepared my Lesky Pace VXH. No question as to ballasting: everything went in and it could have been much much more if possible (if Cyrill F3F would have been prepared, it would have been full ballast). I regretted I did not take the four lead filled brass tubes, so I used the available steel ones. After double checking everything, I handed ma VXH to my friend Christian for launching (he's not afraid of standing at the edge in gusts, not like me...) and I breathed deeply two or three times. Then it went... out of Christian's grip... 45 degrees up with quarter pushed elevator! After some 10 seconds, the glider had gained, I don't know, maybe a 80-100 m altitude.

I can't write much about the flight. After a minute or so getting used to the conditions, I just pushed my VXH harder and harder and harder, working out those wide "EM turns" that snappped like pure craze. It was just extreme F3F speed optimizing that one wants to be lasting forever. And when I got out of the "runs", I just had to point the Pace towards the sky to regain 300 m. Stabilize up there gaining some more, and diving in full backwind into the "run". Progressive pulling into the turns, to full elevator out of turn, and there enjoying the snappy speed gain, again and again. Incredible experience. It was almost like looking at Pierre Rondel's record video, but with all laps (almost?) as fast as his fastest ones, and with the turns wider... Well, maybe I exaggerate, but I promise, only a little bit! Pierre, I know you'd had fallen in love with that place for sure, were you with us last Sunday! And I am quite sure many other speed freaks would have... One is sure: after this, it will be even harder for me to like light lift flying...
Well, landing time. That first one was much harder than I'd expected and I fortunately got a lucky second chance on approach. I can't say I managed the huge rotor. It managed me for most of the approach. I was just trying to react instinctively as good as I could to keep flat and nose down. In the last meter, it could have gone very wrong and I was lucky to get the glider flat again to finally stick its nose into the half frozen ground. Wing tape ripped of, but the VXH was fine! The second landing at another spot was better, although turbulent between some 30 m and 1 meter from ground. I again stabilized as I could, crows out and in and out, and finally pulled crows in 1 m above ground to let it slip on the flat surface. With some preliminary landing scheme in head, this landing was a little easier to manage.
Well, two such unforgettable great flights were enough for my temper this Sunday afternoon. At least I was certain heading home with intact machines. So I watched our friends Raphael and Yves, whom we met there by pure chance (we met them last and first time at the F3F Swiss Championship last October, Raphael organized it). Raphael had his HD video helmet, so I am certain he shot a great footage of my second flight! Maybe some of it will be featured in one of his great Soaring DVDs? But I hope to get a chance to watch it sooner! You too? Well, maybe I'll keep it for me... because it's a hell fast secret magic paradise...

Cheers all and happy spring time flying.


  1. Woowow, great spot :D someday, someday :D

  2. That's a great location, I'm really happy for you!
    Hope to have the chance to fly there some day...